One method supply chain managers might assume would be helpful in tackling this problem is what we examined in last week's lecture: lean manufacturing. The key component in lean manufacturing, as defined by Taiichi Ohno of the Toyota Production System, is to cut down as much time as possible from the moment a product begins its manufacturing journey until it reaches the customer. It seems entirely plausible that less waste might make it easier to adjust or manipulate processes based on the global environment.
However, as Martin Christopher of the Cranfield School of Management explains in his article, "The Agile Supply Chain: Competing in Volatile Markets", lean manufacturing "works best in high volume, low variety and predictable environments". What one would actually want is agility in the supply chain network. And while there are components of lean that are helpful in an agile supply chain, many lean systems are not agile. Christopher defines agility as "the ability of an organization to respond rapidly to changes in demand both in terms of volume and variety".